Transition Words and Phrases in Academic Writing with Examples
Writing needs to be coherent to flow well, and be readable. Transitional words can add the voice and tone to your text, enabling more sophisticated and comprehensible self-expression.
So, what is a transition word? And how to use transition words for essays the way that would impress your tutor? Here is a complete guide to this language aspect, with a concise transition words definition and a detailed explanation of these words’ use specifics.
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Transitions are defined as words and phrases used to link and sequence your ideas in the text so that the readers can understand the connections you’re making.
Overall, there are three kinds of transitions in essays:
- between paragraphs,
- within paragraphs,
- between sections.
Now let’s go through the transition words list and study each category’s purpose and function to advance your academic writing.
Why do you need to work on your transitions?
Clear, logically sequenced writing is impossible without good transition words. If you don’t use various transitional expressions to clarify where you contrast or compare arguments, where you expand on your argument, and where you proceed to a new point, the reader can quickly get confused. Thus, transitions (their skilled use, to be more precise) are praised for an ability to create powerful, visible links between your chunks of data, thus unifying fragmented arguments and statements into a coherent text.
While transitions are important for a seasoned writer, it is also vital to keep that use down to a minimum so that your sentences don’t look overloaded or confusing. Besides, you should always double-check that the chosen transition corresponds to the implied logic of the relationship you’re constructing between sentences or sentence fragments. For instance, if you don’t know how to use this, you risk placing it between contrasting or unrelated statements. For instance:
|I was late for the party. Thus, I made it to the location only by midnight.||I have always hated tomatoes. Thus, you’ll never find them in my fridge.|
Those who don’t know how to use such as can also misplace them so that the reader won’t understand what point you expand.
|I hate eating tomatoes, such as they taste sour to me.||I like outdoor activities, such as lawn tennis, badminton, and football.|
Types of transitional words
There are four major types of transition words that you can use in your writing:
- Additive – are used to add to or expand the point you have made earlier.
- Adversative – serve to present contrasting information disagreeing with the preceding statement or point
- Causal – delineate the cause-and-effect relationship between the current and preceding information
- Sequential – aid the writer in sequence events or order the objects in lists.
This type of transitional word, as the name suggests, serves to add new information to the already stated one. It is mostly impossible to include all information pertaining to one point in one sentence. You might need to use several sentences with distinct points and new information, though all of them will serve to support your major argument and add evidence to it. Let’s talk in more detail about each of the additive transition types you can explore.
In addition to
As well as
Not only…but also
As a matter of fact
Andy wanted to leave the apartment immediately; furthermore, he was planning to file a divorce.
|Mary and Tom liked the lifestyle and spirit of New York as well as the meals served in the coffee shop at the street corner.||As a parent, you’re responsible not only for the baby’s basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter but also for their emotional well-being and unhindered intellectual development.|
One example (of this is)
|The math lecture’s topic was interesting to her; particularly, she was excited about learning algorithms in detail.|
Alice was delighted with the book, notably with the chapters about adolescent psychology.
|Jack was obsessed with books. To illustrate, he never raised his head to greet you, only noticing that you’ve come after finishing his reading session.|
As for (this)
The fact that
With regards to (this)
On the subject of (this)
Looking at (this information)
|Considering the opinion of Johnson (2009), one may see that hypertension is the leading health risk among adolescents today.||The fact that malaria symptoms are not immediately visible implies the hidden risks of visiting Africa and discovering the illness days after returning home.||Looking at the rising rates of the 2020 World Hunger Index, one can hardly doubt the devastating effect of COVID-19 on developing states.|
By the same token
In the same way
In a similar way
|Ann always kept her books in order. Likewise, she preferred keeping her life and relationships under control.||Diabetes has been on the rise in the USA because of the high-calorie diet of the past decades. In a similar way, the U.S. food aid packages have caused the unprecedented rise of diabetes and obesity in developing countries.||Time management is an essential writing skill. You can organize other daily activities by the same token, achieving higher productivity in multiple domains.|
|Clarifying/Identifying Important Information|
That is (to say)
In other words
(To) put (it) another way
What this means is
This means (that)
|CVD is a leading cause of mortality worldwide. In other words, heart disease is what kills the largest number of people today.||The way you talk affects how you’re received in a new society. What this means is that working on communicative competency is your strategic competitive advantage.||Ann is always hungry. Specifically, she eats six times a day, complaining that it’s too little.|
Thus, as you can see, this type of transition can hardly be regarded as introduction transition words. Yet, if you are not sure about starting a body paragraph or adding some essential points to it, these transitions will be highly helpful.
This type’s transitional words are used to link ideas within one point but of varying relationship to that central point. It often happens that you present not only supporting evidence but also the opposing arguments against it. By presenting both sides of the argument, you show that your research was thorough and non-biased. Thus, after the evaluation of both sides, you can produce a more informed analytical conclusion. Here are the categories of adversative transitions you can use:
|Contrasting/ Showing Conflict|
On the contrary
On the other hand
…when in fact
By way of contrast
|It was raining hard. However, we made it to the party on time and got to the club almost dry.||School life is full of joy and fun as you hold little responsibility and have much time to decide. Conversely, college years are the demanding formative period.||She always got up early, even when she didn’t need to go to school. Her brother, on the contrary, tried to sneak any additional minute of sleep and was always late for classes.|
|The moon was shining brightly, creating a spooky atmosphere. Indeed, it was a perfect Halloween night.||I don’t like getting up early. Besides, my daughter will hardly appreciate an early morning flight. So, let’s buy tickets for the evening.||Visiting Thailand in summer is a dubious pleasure, with all those rains and mosquitoes. Above all, you’ll need to spend weeks in quarantine because of COVID precautions.|
|Conceding a Point|
Regardless (of this)
In spite of (this)
Be that as it may
|Mary doesn’t like hikes. Nevertheless, she often joins her son and husband to please them and spend a family weekend.||The USA has been printing cheap dollars as an economic relief since the outbreak of COVID-19. Regardless of this, it remains the strongest economy in the world.||Jack is always late. Even so, he has never missed a plane or train. What a mystery!|
|Dismissing an Argument or Assertion|
In any case
In any event
All the same
At any rate
– “It’s going to rain tomorrow.”
– “In any event, we’ll go on a hike.”
|Regardless of your opinion, I am going to buy this dress tomorrow.||Whatever happens, I will never miss my trip to Poland this summer.|
|Replacing/ Indicating an Alternative|
(or) at least
|Instead of complaining about bad weather, you’d better find warm clothes.||I would rather go home instead of staying in this dirty, loud nightclub.||The weather is so cold; I dream of going abroad for a vacation or at least spend a couple of days off at the seaside.|
This type of transitional word is perfect for delineating the cause-and-effect relationship between various facts and arguments you layout in the paper. They explain under what conditions some event may take place or outline the causes for something. Here are some handy examples to consider.
|Showing Cause or Reason|
Because (of the fact that)
Due to (the fact that)
For the reason that
Owing to (the fact)
|Since you’re always late, I can’t plan my time effectively.||Owing to bad weather, they never managed to make it to the beach during the entire vacation.||For the reason that COVID-19 blocked many businesses, the World Hunger Index rose in many countries in 2020.|
|Explaining the Conditions|
In the event that As/So long as
|If you come early tonight, we’ll have enough time to plan the trip after dinner.||I am ready to lend you money, provided that we stipulate all the terms in writing and notarize the loan.||As long as we’re all here, it’s time to discuss our plans for the coming Christmas holidays.|
|Showing the Effects/Results|
Because (of this)
As a result (of this)
For this reason
As a consequence
So much (so) that
|We spent too much on vacation last month; consequently, our budget for this month is smaller, and we’ll need to spend money economically.||I have been out of work for two months because of COVID-19.||Mary has been partying throughout the first semester; as a consequence, she failed a couple of tests and had to retake the course.|
|Showing the Purpose|
For the purpose(s) of
With (this fact) in mind
In the hope that
In order that/to
So as to
|Mr. Gatsby arranged parties every day in the hope that his beloved would come to one of them.||In the spring of 2020, governments of most countries introduced lockdowns for the purpose of curbing the spread of COVID-19.||I study hard at college in order to graduate with honors and get a good job.|
|Highlighting the Importance of Circumstances|
Under those circumstances
That being the case
In that case
All else being equal
Please hurry up; otherwise, we’ll be late for the bus.
Carol was severely ill that winter
|Under those circumstances, she could neither work nor take care of her children well.|
-I can’t go to work today as I feel weak and feverish.
– In that case, please call a doctor and stay in bed until he comes to examine you.
Whenever you use some lists in your writing or want to show the order or sequence of some events, it’s better to use sequential transitional words. They are sometimes referred to as conclusion transition words because they can help organize your summary of arguments presented throughout the paper. However, they also suit other purposes and can be used in any part of your text if they fit the context.
|Organizing by Number|
First of all
To start with
In the (first/second/third) place
|To start with, you need to register on the website. You’ll be able to place an order after that.||Initially, they planned to go on three excursions during their vacation. But the weather was awful, and they had to spend most of the time indoors.||First, go to the “order” page. Second, choose the meal you want. Third, place an order and proceed to pay for it.|
|They have just returned from Italy. Next, they’re planning to visit Germany.||After everybody comes home, we’ll have a festive dinner.||Previously being a poor, unknown island, Indonesia is now a global hub for sophisticated tourists.|
|Summarizing/ Repeating Information|
Summarizing (this)As (was) stated before
To repeatAs (was) mentioned earlier/above
|As it was stated before, the endeavor is very risky. I would not advise engaging in such affairs.||The weather is awful. The food is terrible. Once again, I will never come back to Thailand.||To repeat, we’re not selling liquor to children. Please tell your father never to send you with such a task to the shop.|
By the way
Returning to the subject
At any rate
– The wind is so cold outside. – Who cares? We didn’t plan to go for a walk anyway.
– We’re planning a trip this summer. What would you recommend? – I would visit Asia for a change. China is quite a tourist-friendly and exciting country, by the way.
– Where would you like to eat out tonight?
– I am not sure. The weather is awful, and I have nothing to put on.
– That’s a pity, darling. But, returning to the subject, which cuisine would you prefer for today’s dinner?
As a final point
Given these points
To sum up
|I didn’t study much this semester. Thus, the problems I now have with tons of assignments are natural.||Mary is tall and beautiful. She is polite and well-bred. Besides, she is always delicate in communication. To sum up, she will be a perfect wife.||They walked up and up for five hours. Finally, they reached the top, and the view they saw was a decent reward for their effort.|
How to choose the proper transition word?
As we said at the very beginning, the use of transition phrases for essays is an art on its own, so the writer’s task is to maximize their effectiveness. Too many transitional words in one text make it hardly readable, while too few transitions transform a text into a choppy set of phrases. So, how to achieve balance? Here are some pro tips to take your use of transitions to a whole new level.
- Mind your choice of transitions during the editing and proofreading stage. Did you use some transition too many times? Do transitions look weird or awkward in some places? Are there text fragments missing proper links? A critical approach to transitions analysis will help you achieve optimal density and variety of these language means.
- Don’t look for one-size-fits-all solutions. Each language context requires a different approach, so if you are looking for an ideal transition suiting all situations – stop it. Relying on a limited set of link words will make your texts repetitive and dull.
- Double-check whether the transition fits the assumed relationship. Wherever you see that your text will benefit from a transition in terms of coherence, ensure that you choose the right type. If you contradict the preceding statement, then an adversative transition will be the right fit. If you want to reinforce and expand your last point, then use only additive transitions.
- Check the whole text for coherence. At times, writers focus on coherence inside sentences and paragraphs, thus omitting the overall text’s logic. Once you’re done with transitions on the sentence and paragraph level, reread the entire text to see how it flows and whether some additional transitions should be added to clarify the sequence of your ideas.
Common mistakes with transition words
Students have to go through a long and bumpy path to the correct use of transitional words and phrases, so they often make mistakes underway. The most common questions troubling students in this regard are, for instance, “Can you start a sentence with ‘but’?” or “What is a linking word for contracting ideas? These errors complicate the reader’s comprehension of the assumed relationships and can create significant confusion about the text’s flow and central message. Let’s clarify the common issues with the use of transition words, helping you eradicate some of them to increase writing quality.
Wrong Use of “Therefore”
The most common issue students come across when using ‘therefore’ is the confusion between transitions and coordinative conjunctions. While conjunctions can conjoin two standalone sentences into one sentence, separated with a comma, transitions cannot. Thus, the best variant of using a transition is to place it at the beginning of the second part and after a semicolon or to separate the two sentences with a full stop. Here is an example:
|June was cold, however, the harvest was still plentiful.|
June was cold. However, the harvest was still plentiful.
June was cold; however, the harvest was still plentiful.
Another problem may stem from the incorrect use of ‘however’ in terms of relationship clarification. This transition is typically used for contracting and showing conflict, while some writers may wrongly use it to expand their point or sequence ideas. Here is a handy illustration:
|Mary was late. However, she always woke up late and missed her bus.||Mary was late. However, she managed to complete the test within 15 minutes left.|
Starting a Sentence with Also, And, or So
Can you start a sentence with ‘and? What rules apply to ‘but,’ ‘also,’ and ‘so’? This question has troubled many students for many years, but there are still no rigid rules in this regard. The Merriam-Webster dictionary recommends not to begin sentences with ‘also,’ ‘but,’ ‘so,’ ‘and,’ and ‘because.’ The rule of thumb is not to begin a sentence with a conjunction.
The classical teaching of English uses the mnemonic FANBOYS (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so) to enumerate the conjunctions with which a sentence should not start. Still, you may see many exceptions to the rule in modern English, and there is no rigid rule for this practice. Thus, we would recommend minimizing their use at the beginning, especially if your supervisor is a fan of conservative English rules.
And here comes the main point: don’t use conjunctions at the beginning of the sentence.
Here comes the main point: don’t use conjunctions at the beginning of the sentence.
Sentence fragments are incomplete sentences that lack either the subject or the predicate, depriving a sentence of the complete, understandable idea. As a rule, you may have some fragments in your text as a result of building faulty connections within clauses.
Kevin brought many fruits home for dinner. Such as peaches, grapes, oranges, and bananas.
I need new shoes. Because the ones I wore last season look awful.
Kevin brought many fruits home for dinner, such as peaches, grapes, oranges, and bananas.
I need new shoes because the ones I wore last season look awful.
And vs. As Well As
The key difference between ‘and’ and ‘as well as’ is in the equal weight to the whole sentence that ‘and’ gives, while ‘as well as’ emphasizes only the final part of the sentence preceding it. For this reason, ‘and’ can act as a conjunction between two independent clauses, while ‘as well as’ can only function as a transition in the list.
Amelie, as well as Maria, are friends. Martin turned around, as well as quickly left the room.
Amelie and Maria are friends. Martin turned around and quickly left the room.
The correct usage of ‘as well as’ would look as follows:
Mitchell was a great musician, actor, as well as cook.
The two countries suffered from war, devastation, as well as famine resulting from two years of draughts.
Use of And/Or
Using and/or in English is totally wrong because of the non-exclusive nature of ‘or,’ which many non-native speakers fail to capture. Common sense suggests that when you say ‘or,’ you mean one of the two options. However, in English, ‘or’ is used to denote that you are OK with one of the two or BOTH. Here is an example:
I would be happy to have coffee and/or a piece of cake now.
I would be happy to have a coffee or a piece of cake now (meaning that you agree to both or either of the two).
Archaic, Outdated Transitions
The final point to consider is the use of outdated, sophisticated transitions that are no longer in everyday use. Here are some examples and suggestions for their replacement:
Diabetes is rarely inherited. In this way, seeing it as a social disease can help find more nuanced solutions to this public health concern.
Diabetes is rarely inherited. Hereby, seeing it as a social disease can help find more nuanced solutions to this public health concern
Some linguists even consider transitions like “however” too old-fashioned, mostly replacing them with “but.” Thus, it’s better to keep your writing balanced and make choices depending on the density and variety of transitions you already have in the text.
List of transition words with synonyms
Transition phrases are diverse and varied, each coming with some tiny connotations and contextual use specifics. Students often look for a concise list of transition words or ponder over what’s another word for some transition, trying to avoid one word’s over-use. So, it’s vital to be informed about all the nuances and use only the transitions you understand well. Here we offer the most Googled transition word list with synonyms, which you can use in your academic writing.
|at the same time|
at the same instant/moment
at one time
last but not least
to sum up
|on the other hand|
on the flip side
as stated by
as maintained by
as claimed by
on the report of
in the opinion of
on the authority of
on top (of that)
over and above that
into the bargain
in spite of the fact that
despite the fact that
notwithstanding the fact that
for all that
as well as
in addition to
|as a result|
as a consequence
due to this
because of that
for the reason that
in view of the fact that
owing to the fact that
with the exception of
put down to
on account of
for the most part
in the main
on the whole
by and large
to a large extent
to a great degree
in the end
in due course
by and by
after some time
after a period of time
after a long time
after a bit
at long last
to give an example
to give an instance
by way of illustration
as an illustration
in actual fact
in point of fact
as a matter of fact
if truth be told
to tell the truth
the truth is/was
to be specific
to be sure
in point of fact
as a matter of fact
as it happens/happened